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Hawkwind - Onward CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.59 | 91 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars "You can't go forward and you can't go back..." Hawkwind remain the masters of space rock.

Immortal Hawkwind return yet again, they will never disband it seems, with studio album number 26. Dave Brock is here in all his glory, the spacey effects are here throughout, there are lengthy instrumental sections, hard driving rock chug a chug rhythms in Hawkwind trademark style and of course unusual themes abound with spacey overtones. The band are in fine form here consisting of legendary Dave Brock on guitar, synthesizer, vocals, Richard Chadwick on drums, Tim Blake on keyboards, theremin, Mr. Dibs on bass, Niall Hone on bass, synthesis, sequencing, guitar, and Jason Stuart on keyboards. The revolving door policy of Hawkwind lineups can continue as long as Brock stays with him; his vocals are still incredible and to me he IS Hawkwind!

The band even return to some of their older material, something they do often on these more recent albums, and here they give 'Death Trap' a nice old walloping and it sounds as good as ever. A live version of 'Right To Decide' is another addition, sounding similar but perhaps heavier and with an extended lead solo and lots of little spacey squelches. A new live version of 'Aero Space Age' is also included, one that I always liked so it was nice to hear it again. A live performance of 'The Flowering Of The Rose' is also included, a lengthy instrumental with soaring space guitar and swathes of synths; great bonus tracks the lot of them.

The weird instrumentals are always fun and here we have the organic cosmic tones of 'Southern Cross', just a wonderful excursion into space rock with gorgeous keyboard passages. A transition 'Electric tears' is also quite a nice piece of ambient music. 'The Drive By' is a very fast percussion driven atmospheric piece. The guitars are sustained string bends that howl along with tinkling keyboards, and it breaks into a techno electronic sound, with some odd dialogue; one of the best instrumentals for the band. 'Howling Moon' has some cool howls to open and creepy atmospheres with effects sounding like Jean Michel Jarre's 'Oxygene'.

On the acoustic side there is 'Mind Cut', reminding me of earlier albums. On the heavier side there is the killer opener 'Seasons' and 'The Hills Have Ears'. 'The Prophecy' has a great melody and very strong vocals from Brock. The space swirls are excellent and especially the lead guitar phrases. It even has a 'Silver Machine' style riff and atmosphere. The structure is similar too along with the swooshing effects, and I love the synths here; definitely one of my favourites on this album.

Of the more conceptual bizarre themes, there is 'System Check' basically a NASA like announcement put to weird music. 'Computer Cowards' opens with manic keyboard tapping and some weird vocal effects. The riff is very chunky, one of the more metal moments, and this is deliriously off the wall, with chanting poetry about cyber bullying, and hypno riffs. This is quite long too and grooves on one riff but the chug a chug meter is welcome, reminding me of classic Hawkwind albums, and the 'Space Ritual' era.

The ending of the album is rather strange consisting of 4 odd tracks after the 3 live tracks, that are really bonus tracks and perhaps should have been tacked onto the end. 'Trans Air Trucking' is totally bizarre with heaps of ideas thrown in almost at random if I didn't know the band better; we have the idiosyncratic synth lines that are retro sounding after some interesting characters are heard including a phone operator, a horse, and a pig, while in the background it might be a vacuum cleaner, but a loud one! 'Deep Vents' is a short stab of space rock cosmic exploration segueing into 'Green Finned Demon' with raucous synths and guitars following some odd signature. The vocals are strong and there are some bone chilling screams. This is followed by a ghost track that has no title, that kind of continues on from the previous track with lots of spacey tones and runs for about 8 minutes. It concludes with breathing effects as if we have plunged into no atmosphere, or perhaps it is a creature sneaking up behind. Well, this is Hawkwind folks, so hold onto your seats!

I am delighted that Hawkwind have not sold out to any commercialism on this album, injecting some fun moments and spacey effects, and it is a definitive Hawkwind album with everything we know and love about them. It delivers with a fresh sound and yet the signature space rock style is everpresent throughout. Along with 'Blood of the Earth' this is streets ahead of some of the material they churned out in the 90s. I can recommend this to any Hawkwind or space rock addict as it is exactly what one would expect for Hawkwind.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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